If you have a teenager, you know that all teens act out at some point. Part of any healthy parent-child relationship is about learning to set appropriate boundaries so that your teen can evolve into a competent and capable adult.
When it comes to teens with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), learning to set appropriate boundaries can be challenging due to the symptoms of BPD. However, knowing how to set boundaries with your teen with BPD will be important to helping them manage their BPD symptoms, developing a healthy relationship with them, and maybe even getting them to enter BPD treatment.
Ways to Set Boundaries with Your BPD Teen
- Understand Borderline Personality Disorder: If you have a teenager with Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s imperative to understand how BPD works and how it manifests in teens. Read books on BPD, attend BPD workshops, and join family support groups for BPD. When you better understand how BPD affects your teen’s behavior, you will know what to expect from your teen and determine the best ways to set boundaries.
- Show tough love: While this may seem like manipulation to you, you might have to show tough love to emphasize that your teen’s behaviors aren’t okay with you. Don’t always give in to the whims of your teen. If they want to take tennis lessons, let them know they have to comply with the house rules or get their chores completed for a month before you’ll sign them up. Learning to say no to your teen may be the only way they learn that they can’t always expect to get everything they want without putting in some effort.
- Do not entertain overt behavior: It’s possible that your BPD teen will act aggressively, violently, or recklessly because the disorder can cause them to experience unpredictable mood swings and temperamental fluctuations. Your family does not have to suffer with this behavior just because it comes with the disorder. If your teen is acting out in a way that is dangerous or aggressive, set ground rules and consequences. If that doesn’t stop their behaviors, some type of professional intervention may be needed.
- Be judicious with financial help: Setting boundaries with your teen with Borderline Personality Disorder often means not providing them financial assistance. If your teen knows you will give them money every time they want to go to a movie or need gas for their car, they may not have motivation to change their behaviors. Encourage them to be responsible by earning their own money and budgeting. If they are held accountable when it comes to money, and know they won’t get it from you when they need it, it may help them change their behaviors for the better.
- Seek help from a BPD therapist: There might come a time when you will find it hard to figure out whether you’re being too stringent or an enabler. This is when you should seek help from a BPD therapist. A BPD therapist can offer you advice on the right course of action needed to effectively set boundaries for your BPD teen.
Learning to set boundaries with a teenager who has Borderline Personality Disorder is important. However, you have to realize that it’s essential to strike a balance between being tough and being validating. No matter how you ultimately decide to set boundaries, continue to reassure your teen that you’re there to help and provide support — no matter what.